Dickman on Leadership: Being There & The Importance of Deep Listening

Added on by B. Dickman.

I’m excited to share the next episode in my video series “Dickman on Leadership” where I explore different aspects of leadership through classic film. As a narrative and leadership coach, I believe film holds a mirror up to society and human behavior. In this series, I’ll share some of my favorite examples of both excellent and poor leadership. I hope you enjoy and learn something new! 

As a leadership coach for more than 20 years, I have found that the most difficult skill for leaders is one of the most important, listening. It is a full mind and body activity that must be practiced and mastered to make an effective leader. In this “Dickman on Leadership” episode we take a look at Peter Sellers’ performance in the film Being There and I explore techniques you can use to enhance your listening techniques.

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel and see all of the videos in this series at https://www.youtube.com/user/firstvoicebob

Do you have a leadership question you would like answered? Click on "ASK BOB" for a free one-time email or phone session. 

Dickman on Leadership: Walker & Boundaries Can Save Your Life

Added on by B. Dickman.

I’m excited to share the next episode in my video series “Dickman on Leadership” where I explore different aspects of leadership through classic film. As a narrative and leadership coach, I believe film holds a mirror up to society and human behavior. In this series, I’ll share some of my favorite examples of both excellent and poor leadership. I hope you enjoy and learn something new! 

While on the set of the Ed Harris film WALKER, I lost sense of my personal boundaries which put my personal safety at risk. In this video, I share that story and a technique to ensure leaders are aware of their team's personal boundaries. 

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel and see all of the videos in this series at https://www.youtube.com/user/firstvoicebob  

Do you have a leadership question you would like answered? Click on "ASK BOB" for a free one-time email or phone session. 

Dickman on Leadership: The Caine Mutiny & Trusting Your Leader

Added on by B. Dickman.

Welcome to the next episode in my video series “Dickman on Leadership” where I explore different aspects of leadership through classic film. As a narrative and leadership coach, I believe film holds a mirror up to society and human behavior. In this series, I’ll share some of my favorite examples of both excellent and poor leadership. I hope you enjoy and learn something new!

In the classic film The Caine Mutiny - a film based on a true story - we have a dramatic example of the importance of trust in leadership. Watch the video to learn more...

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel and see all of the videos in this series at https://www.youtube.com/user/firstvoicebob  

Do you have a leadership question you would like answered? Click on "ASK BOB" for a free one-time email or phone session. 

Dickman on Leadership: Loose Cannons & The Unintended Consequences of Praise

Added on by B. Dickman.

Even your most high achieving team members are vulnerable to the power of praise.

I’m excited to share the next episode in my video series “Dickman on Leadership” where I explore different aspects of leadership through classic film. As a narrative and leadership coach, I believe film holds a mirror up to society and human behavior. In this series, I’ll share some of my favorite examples of both excellent and poor leadership. I hope you enjoy and learn something new!

As an assistant to the director on the set of Loose Cannons I witnessed a dramatic example of how excessive praise can be damaging to a team. Watch the video to learn more...

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel and see all of the videos in this series at https://www.youtube.com/user/firstvoicebob  

Do you have a leadership question you would like answered? Click on "ASK BOB" for a free one-time email or phone session. 

Dickman on Leadership: The Man With Two Brains & Confirmation Bias

Added on by B. Dickman.

Confirmation bias can blind us to what is right before our eyes.

I’m excited to share the next episode in my video series “Dickman on Leadership” where I explore different aspects of leadership through classic film. As a narrative and leadership coach, I believe film holds a mirror up to society and human behavior. In this series, I’ll share some of my favorite examples of both excellent and poor leadership. I hope you enjoy and learn something new!

In The Man With Two Brains we see how strong emotions, when hidden from view, bias the best of intentions.

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel and see all of the videos in this series at https://www.youtube.com/user/firstvoicebob  

Do you have a leadership question you would like answered? Click on "ASK BOB" for a free one-time email or phone session.  

Dickman on Leadership: On Set with Robin Williams & Rebuilding Self-Confidence in the Moment

Added on by B. Dickman.

I’m excited to share the next episode in my video series “Dickman on Leadership” where I explore different aspects of leadership through classic film. As a narrative and leadership coach, I believe film holds a mirror up to society and human behavior. In this series, I’ll share some of my favorite examples of both excellent and poor leadership. I hope you enjoy and learn something new!

In this episode, I share a wonderful example of how to rebuild self-confidence in the moment that I witnessed while working on the film set of The Best of Times. Having difficulty with one particular scene, Robin Williams takes a step back to rebuild his confidence.

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel and see all of the videos in this series at https://www.youtube.com/user/firstvoicebob

Do you have a leadership question you would like answered? Click on "ASK BOB" for a free one-time email or phone session.

Dickman on Leadership: Seven Samurai & Overcoming Blind Spots

Added on by B. Dickman.

Welcome to a new episode of my video series “Dickman on Leadership” where I explore different aspects of leadership through classic film. As a narrative and leadership coach, I believe film holds a mirror up to society and human behavior. In this series, I’ll share some of my favorite examples of both excellent and poor leadership. I hope you enjoy and learn something new! 

Using a clip from Seven Samurai, I show just how deadly misperception can be and the importance of seeing yourself clearly in high stakes situations. 

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel and see all of the videos in this series at https://www.youtube.com/user/firstvoicebob 

Do you have a leadership question you would like answered? Click on "ASK BOB" for a free one-time email or phone session.

Dickman on Leadership: Bill Durham & Overcoming Performance Anxiety

Added on by B. Dickman.

Do your palms perspire and your mouth feel like you stuffed a dozen cotton balls down your throat? If this happens when you’re standing in front of an audience or even thinking about it then you have a fear shared by millions of others. According to the annual Chapman University survey on phobia, the fear of public speaking is the number one American phobia.  

In this episode of "Dickman on Leadership" we explore techniques to overcoming performance anxiety through an example from the film Bull Durham. 

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel and see all of the videos in this series at https://www.youtube.com/user/firstvoicebob  

Do you have a leadership question you would like answered? Click on "ASK BOB" for a free one-time email or phone session.  

What Smokey The Bear can teach us about failure

Added on by B. Dickman.
Smokey-Bear.jpg

Remember Smokey the Bear? “Only you can prevent forest fires.” As a boy, that was my mantra.

I grew up in the dry, grey sagebrush hills of Southern California—the site of some of the worst fires in US history. Smokey convinced millions of Americans that fire was the deadly enemy of all animal and vegetable life. It was a dangerous force that must be eliminated, or it would indiscriminately destroy everything it its path.

When I went on summer camping trips with my family, my favorite job was making sure the fire was out. Dad helped me put on his thick hiking boots, then i’d jump into the concrete fire ring and stamp on the smoldering embers until every glowing spark was extinguished. It felt great, like I was killing a diamondback rattler, making sure it could never spite it’s fiery venom at innocent pine trees, jack rabbits or, God forbid, baby Bambi.  After Dad made sure that I had “assassinated” the fire, he’d say “good job” and I’d beam with pleasure. 

Unfortunately, Smokey’s strategy hasn’t been a great idea in the long term. Scientists now realize that fire is an essential part of the forest’s eco system. Fires help eliminate dead trees and underbrush; certain seed pods germinate only after being exposed to the high temperatures of forest fires.  

By preventing this natural fire cycle from occurring, dead trees and underbrush keep accumulating until the entire forest is a huge tinder box waiting to explode. Smokey’s strategy leads not to healthy forests and Nature in balance, but even larger and deadlier fires.  

So the US Forestry Department has a new policy. Forest fires are no longer seen as bad or “evil”; trying to prevent all fires is not only impossible, but undesirable. Fire is now understood to be a natural part of a healthy forest system. 

The equivalent of “fire” in business 

What’s the equivalent of fire in business? What do most business leaders stomp down on, hard

The fear of making a mistake. 

Mistake-making and forest fires have a lot in common. Both seem to come out of nowhere. Both are unpredictable. And both fires and mistakes make leaders feel like they’re no longer in control.

Often fearful subordinates try to hide mistakes, problems or obstacles from bosses. The result—as with Smokey—can be bigger losses down the road. 

Business consultant Steve Schlabs reports that, in big organizations, a salesforce is usually the group closet to the customer. Salespeople deal with the everyday concerns customers have with the product. Salespeople know what’s working with the product and what’s not. This is vital information to the leaders of a company. 

However that information is often not delivered, or worse distorted, because sales people are afraid. They don’t want to be blamed for a problem in the product, or have their jobs threatened by their superiors because they “just can’t sell.” So small problems easily fixed go unchecked until a crisis happens. Mistrust between salespeople and their bosses can cause huge business disasters.

Here’s a better way

Develop a culture of curiosity. Look at patterns of behavior. Allow the people who are closest to the customer to speak openly, without feeling like they are jeopardizing their jobs. Instead of having a stomp-down culture, ask “Are all mistakes bad?” “Can failure lead to greater opportunity?” “Would learning more quickly about a product or interpersonal problem lead to a better outcome?”

Smokey’s bosses have changed their tune, and so can you. Imagine the bear in the hat: “Only You Can Inspire Curiosity and Challenge Old Thinking.”

Through A Glass Darkly

Added on by B. Dickman.

“We read the world wrong and say it deceives us”

                            -Rabindranath Tagore 

Business Week conducted a survey. It asked thousands of business managers to self rate themselves regarding their competence and skills when leading others. 90% of the managers who responded placed themselves in the top 10% regarding their skills and abilities.

Executive coach Marshall Goldsmith, was speaking at a large medical conference. There were over 300 doctors in the audience. Marshall asked by a show of hands how many were in the top 50% of their graduating class.  Every physician raised their hand. Marshall paused for a moment looked hard at the audience, smiled and said “According to the laws of statistics this is highly improbable.” The audience laughed back nervously.

dark-sunglasses.jpg

”Through a glass darkly” That’s how the bible describes human ability to see reality. Another way of looking at this is to say that we all have blind spots regarding seeing ourselves and how we view the world.  We think that we are seeing what is actually there but forget we are wearing a dark pair of sunglasses with distorted lens. And everyone has a different pair of glasses with unique distortions moulded by our own experiences, traumas, travails and cultural conditioning.

Here are five actions we can take to act more effectively:

  1. A big step into the light, is to assume that we don’t  see reality as it actually is especially when we are in high stakes situations.
  2. Slow down your decision making especially when you find yourself talking rapidly, breathing shallowly, and having an overwhelming sense you are right. 
  3. Understand that we make decisions based on how we feel as well as our rational reasoning. Thinking that we can exclude emotions from our decisions is folly. Emotions informs our rational brain and helps us make decisions. 

   The more we pay attention to those feelings the more likely we can understand the effect that emotions have on our world view. Conversely, the more we deny awareness of our emotions the more likely they will unconsciously influence our perceptions

  1. Hire a coach who is dedicated to helping you understand your blind spots and is engaged in giving you clear feedback on your performance.
  2. Even when there is enormous pressure for a decision take the time to breathe. Slow deep breaths engage the parasympathetic nervous system that allows greater blood flow to the brain and signals that we are not under extreme threat to either flee, freeze or fight.

Empty Handed

Added on by Bob Dickman.

I want to tell you a story about two different types of communication. The year is 2002. A group of Silicon Valley billionaires is backing a new museum for the California Academy of Science. The money’s not a problem; the land’s prepared. The question is, who can build a building that turns the world on its ear?

After an intense search and deliberation, the competition was down to two, both great architects. The first was a Brit by the name of Sir Norman Foster. Foster was—and is—a giant in the field; he’s designed buildings around the world. You might know a building of his, a skyscraper in the middle of London’s financial district affectionately nicknamed “The Gherkin.” (Personally, I think it looks more like Buck Rogers’ rocket ship than a pickle) Foster’s competition was Renzo Piano, an Italian of equal renown. Renzo designed the George Pompidou Center, a one hundred thousand square foot building carved into the heart of downtown Paris.

Norman Foster—Authority in Action

norman-foster.jpg

The two finalists were asked to make a presentation in front of the Academy’s board. The first presenter was Foster. He came well prepared, with a beautiful scale model of his proposed design. Foster meticulously showed how each part of his model would interact; he spoke forcefully about the amazing materials to be used, the fact that buildings spew more toxins into our atmosphere than cars, and how imperative it is to design in sustainability. Each of Foster’s points was underlined by projected slides, and mounted renderings, moved this way and that by his army of assistants. When the hours-long presentation was over, the Academy’s Board was quite impressed, if not, completely worn out. Such attention to detail! Such authority! Such control over his subject matter! How could Renzo top that?

Renzo Piano arrived a day later. When he entered the presentation room he had no model, or even pictures of his model. Thinking that the model must be on its way, one of his hosts asked if he would prefer to wait a bit. Renzo smiled, and said that the only thing he needed was a large pad of white paper and an easel.

“But where is your model?” a Board member asked.

“Here,” Piano said, tapping his forehead.

Renzo Piano—“We are having a conversation.”

renzo-piano.jpg

For all his accomplishments, the Italian is an unprepossessing figure. He is a small-framed man who holds himself in a relaxed and welcoming manner, and when the presentation began, Piano was silent for a while. He smiled and acknowledged the audience…then began to talk.

Piano spoke about the building as if it were his intimate friend. He suggested that this building would be alive in the same way that nature is alive. He spoke of how this building could breathe. As Piano said this, he began to draw pictures illustrating what he meant—not full-color, impressive renderings like Foster had prepared, but drawings, sketches really, that conveyed feeling. The audience began to see and sense the life force in these drawings. They hung on Piano’s every word, and learned as he, quietly but with great intensity, talked with, not at them. Honest to God, they began to see how an inanimate object could actually breathe.

Piano’s drawings were surprising, accessible, beautiful. He spoke about the power of beauty—that it was not sentimental, but a force equal to power and aggression. True beauty, rooted in nature its laws, was actually even greater than that, because it had the power to transform, to inspire. People in the room were able to see into his creative process; new forms and ideas kept spilling out until the entire room became a part of his narrative web.

As Piano finished, a stillness enveloped the room; the Board was leaning forward in their chairs. He had captured everyone’s imagination. He was so present, that the people in the room sensed something being born, right in front of their eyes. The audience didn’t feel cajoled or worn down or convinced; they felt thrilled, enthralled. Renzo Piano, with his broken English and Italian accent, brought light to that room and in so doing had transformed everyone in it.

The Power of Conversation

Need I say what happened next? Renzo Piano was awarded the contract. His California Academy of Science Museum now sits in the center of Golden Gate Park. Renzo had prevailed not because he was smarter than Foster—both men are geniuses—but because his style of communication worked more effectively.

Piano’s triumph wasn’t all about him, any more than a conversation is only about one person; it was the Board that decided. In the next update, I’ll tell you exactly how Piano won the day. Then I’ll explain how you can use this same type of communication in your own business.

Special thanks to: Ron Pompei at Pompei AD and Andy Klemmer at Paratus Group for helping me with the history of the story.

Harnessing the Power of Story/Brand to Create Revenue Workshop

Join Bob and Pat Pattison for their Harnessing the Power of Story/Brand to Create Revenue workshop on Wednesday, March 28. More info here: http://fv-mar-28-12.eventbrite.com/

This must be Toesday

Added on by Bob Dickman.

Recently a client of mine who once worked for a big firm told me an interesting story. One morning, she was summoned to a large meeting. After everyone had gathered, the COO spoke in a reassuring way, indicating that yes business was down, but no downsizing was planned. My client wasn’t buying it.

After the meeting, my client asked to have a word with the COO in private. When they were alone, she got right to the point. “So Jim—how many of us are getting laid off?”

toesday.jpg

The COO gawped at her. “How did you know?” “Every time you try to hide bad news,” my client replied, “you look down at your toes.”

Brain scientists and social anthropologists tell us that human beings are storytelling creatures. People are continuously transmitting stories—whether they know it or not. And the more aware leaders become of their hidden story giveaways, the more authentic, trustworthy, and credible they become.

Just imagine if Jim hadn’t looked down at his toes. Instead, he’d come forward and said, “As you know, the company is facing a downturn and, sadly, we will be letting people go. The leadership team has struggled with how best to tell you this. We felt that you deserve the most up-to-date, accurate information possible, which is why I’m giving it to you straight. We will be making every effort to help those who will be leaving the company.”

Even though this would be a difficult speech to give, it would preserve credibility for Jim and the company’s senior team. Credibility not only enhances a company’s ability to weather tough times, it gives all parties the maximum number of options. Who knows—perhaps in six months, the company will be able to re-hire some or all of the layoffs? Who would want to return to a company whose leaders deceived or patronized its workforce?

It’s precisely when tough messages must be conveyed that businesspeople must be most conscious of their storytelling. The right stories help leaders lead; and you can’t lead if you’re looking down at your toes!

Success Really Does Breed Success

Added on by Bob Dickman.

In the mid-80s, a group of grad students at the University of Minnesota wanted to see if people would learn more quickly from success or failure. So they selected two bowling teams matched closely in experience, age, physical characteristic of bowlers, et cetera. One group was “Team A,” the other “Team B.” Then, the students videotaped a whole seasonʼs worth of tournaments. From these recorded tournaments, the students created two edited video tapes. The first tape showed only the mistakes that “Team A” members made—holding oneʼs breath; releasing the ball incorrectly; or visibly losing focus after a disappointing game. The second video, however, showed “Team B” members doing things right.

After each video was shown to the relevant team, the team members were encouraged to talk among themselves about what they had learned, and what if anything they wanted to change. Almost immediately both teams began to tell each other stories. The big difference was that “Team A” produced a series of painful, negative stories while the positive tape produced a much more optimistic appraisal of success for “Team B.”

Both teams improved their game after seeing their video. However “Team B”—the ones who got the “success” mixtape—improved their score 38% faster than “Team A.”

Bowlers learn more quickly and effectively by focusing on their success rather than their failures.

This same experiment has now been replicated with other sports, with similar results. Great golfers find it far more effective to visualize a shot going straight down the middle toward the center of the green, than saying over and over, “What ever you do, donʼt hit it into the rough.”

These studies form the basis of a new field of organizational development: Appreciative Inquiry (http://bit.ly/qd3l1) Appreciative Inquiry, developed by David Cooperrider(http://bit.ly/qa29FI) and his associates, has found that people within organizations find it more productive to focus on what is working well—what is vital and successful within a business—rather than what is defective, deficient and destructive. In his work, participants are asked to tell stories of actual successful and vital events. What did those events actually look and feel like? The more specific the better.

AI says that what individuals and organizations focus on becomes reality; and the stories that are told within the organization reinforce that reality. The next time youʼre feeling stuck, visualize the outcome you want.

Say youʼre anxious to close a deal with a client. Hereʼs a few tips to move towards a positive mindset:

  • Think like “Team B”: recall a time when you closed that deal—when you were feeling vital, happy and successful.
  • In your mind, flesh out the details of that success. How were you feeling? What were you thinking? How were you behaving towards your client, and yourself?
  • Visualize doing more of what made you successful.
  • Now put that visualization into practice, and close this deal, too!

Bob is a certified executive coach. He helps managers and their teams become more successful by improving how they think and talk. Contact Bob at: bob@first-voice.com

What Lady Macbeth Can Teach Doctors

Added on by Bob Dickman.

Thereʼs a big problem in hospitals: patients are dying when they donʼt have to. According to Dr. Richard Pascale, Associate Fellow at Oxford University, “Twenty thousand Americans die every year because they are in a hospital and are exposed to a bacteria immune to antibiotics.” Thatʼs like a plane crash every week—and it doesnʼt have to happen. The culprit is called MERA; itʼs a type of multi-resistant Staph which spreads when health care givers forget to wash their hands. Interestingly, men and women at the top of the medical hierarchy—doctors—forget more often than nurses, EMT or orderlies.

Many hospitals have tried posting stats in hallways; others actually levy fines. But neither approach has helped. (Whatʼs next? Maybe a picture of Lady Macbeth?)

Dr. Pascaleʼs approach was simple. First, he discovered a small VA hospital where there had been a 60% reduction in MERA. Then, he didnʼt talk to the administrators or doctors, but gathered stories from the people below—the orderlies, the patients. One patient said, “When I hears that squish sound”—someone using the disinfectant pump —“I sigh with relief.”

This and other stories led to two changes in hospital procedures. First, the hospital moved the dispensers from behind the bed to in front, so patients could see who was disinfecting before touching them. Next, administrators encouraged both patients and family members to speak up—a friendly, “Hey doc, please wash your hands.” This bottom-up approach has done wonders.

Who in your company has the least power? Perhaps itʼs your customers or assembly operators or your maintenance people. It might surprise and inspire you to spend some time asking them how they see the world and what steps can be taken to make your organization more vital and productive. The results might make you sigh with relief.

There Will Be Stories

Added on by Bob Dickman.

I was hired by the head of an oil company to help a particular refinery improve itʼs safety standards. Accidents had been occurring at an alarming rate over the last few years. This was well above the OSHA standards. The head of the refinery had tried to use financial rewards and punishments in a carrot and stick approach to improving safety. He monetarily rewarded the crews with the lowest accident rates while fining those who had more problems. He was confident that this would bring results. His motto was “Unleash capitalist principles to bring greater safety.” It sounded great but after a year of using his program, the safety record was only marginally improved.

I suggested that I be allowed to interview the crews with the best safety record. I wanted to learn what they were doing right. What I discovered was that the stories of safe and effective procedures were being told to everyone on the team. For instance, a problem had arisen when crew members needed to select specific tools for a job. New crew members could get confused or feel rushed in selecting the correct wrench. They were reluctant to ask too many questions for fear of sounding “dumb” Consequently oil lines were improperly being shut down with the resulting unexpected pressures and potential fires.

One resourceful crew member painted the needed wrench bright blue. This visual cue made clear which wrench to select, even for neophytes. The crew chief made sure that this story was told to everyone, especially the newer crew members. The chief also urged his team to collect more safety stories and pass them on. Top management working with each platform chief adopted the policy of capturing and telling success and safety stories. The last time I checked, the refinery had a zero accident rate after 14 months of instigating this program.

It is human nature that everyone wants to feel safe. Financial incentives may not help or even get in the way. Instead, I suggest doing three things. First share stories of what is working well in your company. Second, make sure these stories are told again and again to all members of the team. Finally, let your team know that stories of success are welcome and appreciated.

Change is tough in any organization. Make sure that positive events in your culture are turned into stories about how problems get solved. Then encourage that these stories be told with passion and frequency.

The Tail that Launched a Thousand Ships

Added on by Bob Dickman.

These are tough times and most of us are being pressured to do without or do with less. So how is it possible that millions of people suddenly became concerned for the welfare of a single small brown and white terrier -so involved that the US Navy and Coast Guard were reluctantly pressured to send in ships and aircraft.

What force of nature could cause all this commotion? Why a story of course...

Bob has the ability to help you connect with your "Stories" - more importantly he helps explain in detail how to construct and tell the stories needed for all individuals and organizations. Prior to Bob's workshop I was struggling with the transformational description of myself and newly formed business. Bob's ability to "Listen" and connect me to my mind’s eye has allowed me to create a great and needed personal story. This newly formed story has the clarity and impact needed to help my clients and customers understand what our message is.
—Dr. Dale Deardorff Former Director of Strategic Thinking, Boeing

Join Bob in his Find Your Business Story Workshop on Sept. 22 and mobilize your forces: http://fybs-sept-22.eventbrite.com/

A Little More Gary Cooper, A Little Less Daffy Duck

Added on by Bob Dickman.

My client Jim was in trouble because he couldnʼt get a job. Jim was a skillful consultant with a Ph.D. in psychology, and had been working in the financial world as a highly paid advisor to one specific firm for almost 10 years. This one client generated more than 90% of his income. He loved his job, and the firm rewarded his efforts with a steadystream of work.

Until the board of directors replaced the firmʼs CEO. The new CEO wanted “a clean slate” — and Jim lost his job.

Jim began scrambling to find new consulting gigs. He was getting interviews but no callbacks, and no offers. He hired me to help him figure out what was going wrong.

When I conducted a mock interview, I noticed one damaging behavior: Jim could not stop talking. Even after something as simple and innocuous as “Why do you want this job?” or “Tell me about yourself,” the torrent began. Jimʼs speech was so rapid fire, itʼs amazing he was able to breathe!

Finally, I gently cut him off and asked if he remembered what my original question had been. He had no memory of why he was talking.

Jim is not alone in this behavior. Leaders are rewarded for taking charge and speaking up. This starts in school, which can seem like a game of “Jeopardy!”—the kid who hits the buzzer first, wins the prize. What child gets rewarded for thinking more slowly, deliberating or reflecting? And as we grow up, things only get more competitive. Add to this conditioning the additional stress of really wanting to impress the interviewer, and itʼs easy to see why listening is a dying art.

I asked Jim to rent a few westerns made in the 40ʼs and 50ʼs. I suggested “High Noon” In this film Gary Cooper, the local sheriff is confronted with the knowledge that a gang of killers will be coming to his town in a few days. The train will arrive at noon. Cooper tries to recruit others in the town to help him stand up to the bad guys, but everyone turns him down, and he is forced to face the murderous gang alone. Cooperʼs dialogue is sparse, direct and to the point. His ability to hold the silence makes him powerful. We know that the other characters are weak because they cannot look him in the eye or stop stammering excuses. There is no question he is the hero and the power of his silence proves it.

Lessons to practice when meeting new people, especially in high-stakes situations:

• Become aware of any stress, anxiety, or pressure to impress well before the meeting takes place. • At the meeting, really listen to the questions being asked. Hold them in your mind for a few seconds before responding. • If you arenʼt clear on a question, ask for clarification before you answer. • If you find yourself talking a lot, ask yourself “Why am I talking?”

[These tips should help you avoid this common communication error, and really connect. The next interview Jim had, he talked less, said more—and got the job!]

Or something like this.

Bob has scheduled his next workshop for September 22. Sign up now and take advantage of the early bird discount. And don't miss out, we had to turn people away from the last workshop! Get all the info here: Finding Your Business Story

You probably will never see this....

Added on by Bob Dickman.

I see it everywhere—in clients, friends, even myself: a feeling of being overwhelmed by information. Email, social media, phone calls, coming at them 24 hours a day, every day. “Did you get my email?” “Who knows? I get 300 of them a day.”

One client sums it up like this: “I’m being crushed by all this information. It’s gotten so bad that in the morning I dread turning on my computer and seeing how many new messages I’ve gotten. I don’t need any more information. What I need is meaning, context—something that helps me make sense of my world.”

What helps create more meaning? A well-crafted story, grounded in experience. Remember that stories don’t have to be long. Stories can do more than entertain; they inform, educate and inspire. The right story at the right time can change your world for the better. They can help you stand out in our era of too much information.

Come and practice telling your business story at my next workshop on June 30th. Only 2 slots left before the workshop is filled. Grab them here. (http://june-find-your-story.eventbrite.com)

Have you checked the pulse of your story?

Added on by Bob Dickman.

More than 60% of the companies originally listed on the Fortune 500 have vanished. All these casualties of capitalism have one thing in common: they lost their story, then they lost market share. Just a few years ago Ford was in a pickle.

Ford has been one of the most successful, iconic businesses in the United States. It’s been building automobiles for almost 100 years and its brand is recognized around the world. Yet in 2003 and ‘04 pundits were talking about the real possibility that Ford could go out of business. Ford’s old story of building tough trucks and SUV’s at the exclusion of smaller, more fuel efficient cars was not working. The company had alienated many younger customers, especially women. People were turning to other carmakers like Toyota and Honda. These companies were telling stories that appealed to a younger, more diverse base.

So Ford did something courageous it hired a new CEO by the name of Alan Mulally.

Alan was not an auto industry insider. He came from aerospace -- with a fresh new story. His story was simple: “We are going to build highly efficient, high quality cars and trucks. They will be safe, innovative, fun to drive.” He also borrowed several billion dollars from private sources before the financial collapse of 2008/09. This put Ford ahead of its US competition and the company followed through with new products that resonated with Mulally’s new story. After years of losing market share, Ford became profitable again in late 2009.

Companies that have survived and thrived have powerful, vibrant narratives that give them a strong sense of community and identity. These stories make people care and understand what these companies really stand for. If you want a business that will last, start with a great story. If you want to make sure your current venture survives, fix the story first.

What's your business story? Are you making people care? Are you creating community? Do people know what your company stands for?

Join our community of storytellers on June 30th to breathe more life into your business! Sign up by June 15th (just 3 days left!!) and get the early bird discount.

Sign up here. (http://june-find-your-story.eventbrite.com/)